Aim-To detect the presence or absence of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in cervical lesions ranging from normality to invasive malignancy. Methods-Eighteen randomly selected cases of invasive squamous cell carcinomas of the uterine cervix were examined as well as 25 cases each of normal cervices and those showing cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) I, II, and III. DNA-DNA in situ hybridisation, using a biotinylated probe to the Bam Hl "W" fragment of EBV, was carried out in addition to the polymerase chain reaction using specific primer sequences that flank a 153 base pair segment of the Bam Hl "W" region of the EBV genome and which do not cross-amplify other DNA herpes viruses. Positive control material included paraffin wax embedded P3 HR1 lymphoblastoid cells (containing high copy numbers of EBV) and two nasopharyngeal carcinomas positive for EBV. Results-Neither normal nor CIN I tissue was positive. Eight per cent of CIN II tissue was positive; 8% of CIN III, and 43% of carcinomas were positive for EBV. Conclusion-The study shows that the virus is present in some cases of cervical carcinoma and to a lesser degree in some premalignant lesions of the cervix, but the exact association between it and cervical oncogenesis, be it causative or incidental, remains to be determined.